Edvard Munch, Pikene på broen (Girls on the Bridge), 1902, oil on canvas. Estimate: on request, in excess of $50 million; realized: $54.5 million.
Sotheby’s achieved a total of $157.7 million at its Impressionist and modern art evening sale Monday night, kicking off a week of fall auctions in New York by passing its $142.8 million low estimate and selling 81 percent of the works on offer. The highlight of the 42-lot auction was Edvard Munch’s Pikene på broen (Girls on the Bridge), 1902, which beat its pre-sale estimate of $50 million, going to a bidder on the phone with Impressionist and modern co-head Simon Shaw for 54.4 million. (All sales prices include buyer’s premium, unless otherwise noted.)
“Munch is a great friend of ours at Sotheby’s,” a smiling Shaw said after the sale, referring to a certain Munch, The Scream (1895), which became the priciest work ever sold at auction (a record later eclipsed) at Sotheby’s New York in 2012, when it made $119.9 million.
There was also one new artist record on the night, for László Moholy-Nagy—EM 1 Telephonbild (EM 1 Telephone Picture), 1922, went for $6.1 million, well above the artist’s previous record of $1.6 million.
“What we saw tonight continued what we’ve seen for the past six months: there is a demand for high-quality works of art,” Shaw said.
And yet, apart from the Munch—which may become the week’s top lot in a year when the frequency of eight-figure works is way down from years past—the primary topic at hand was how the market would react to the shocking, utterly confounding result of last week’s presidential election.
Art market experts told ARTnews the day after the vote that the market would be at the very least impervious to the changing of the guard, with some suggesting that possible tax breaks under a Trump regime will allow for an even more robust high-end luxuries market. When asked Wednesday how the election would affect the fall sales, Amy Cappellazzo, co-head of the Fine Arts Department at Sotheby’s, said bluntly, “Trump is probably better for the art market if you analyze it.”...MUCH MORE